“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” So begins the 23rd Psalm. Like a typical Hollywood movie, the Psalm begins with a beautiful time free of cares, followed by the challenges of the valley of the shadow of death, followed by redemption (in God’s house and presence). Psalm 23 is dependent upon a covenant or promise God made to humanity in Genesis 9 after the great flood. “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood. Never again shall a flood consume the entire earth.” The beauty of the rainbow after the storm becomes the sign of God’s promise: a sign of God’s own nature, a caregiver instead of a punisher, a nurturer instead of a demander.
The rainbow moment was perhaps the first time humans and God understood life would have plenty enough struggles and storms of its own, without an angry deity making life even more miserable. Think of this past week, between the snowstorms and cold pounding the south and Texas having its own essentially unregulated power-grid millions of humans are suffering through no fault of their own. The core of our faith through the message of Jesus and Scriptures like the 23rd Psalm is that it’s precisely at such times that God seeks to be our shepherd, our comfort, our guide in learning how to better care for one another, especially the most vulnerable. God’s promise not to flood the earth becomes a covenant to love, and an invitation for all the faithful to love our neighbors as well. Below is a link to UMNews that I invite you to click on. It will lead to stories of what UM Churches are doing in the midst of the storms in the Southern US. It will remind some of you of what UM Churches did in the midst of the Red River Valley floods. It will remind us what is at the heart of God’s covenant to care for the people of the earth.
May God shepherd us all, and lead us to care well for one another.
One of the most beautiful pieces of music, in my opinion, is a rather simple song. It’s a song that is like a good conversation with a friend–over food where each bite is savored and each word is gracious and honest. The song is a lullaby, so the notes from the piano are gentle, as the string section savors each note they play. It’s almost like the piano is a crackling fireplace and the strings a warm blanket soothing a tired soul.
2020 and 2021 thus far have had more than their share of challenges. Recently, I received word a friend and colleague’s grandmother passed from Covid-19 while his Grandpa was hospitalized at her side and still is struggling with it–just a few weeks more and they would likely have been vaccinated. Our Grace prayer list also includes one of our member’s brother-in-law who is on dialysis several times a week while waiting for a kidney transplant, now admitted to the hospital with Covid-19. I also find myself thinking of essential-workers again–how everyone was praising them for a time for putting themselves at risk each day. Yet, as vaccinations slowly roll out, I wonder if those essential workers not in hospital settings feel forgotten in the formula of distributing vaccines. My guess is there will be many stories to tell of this last year and griefs I haven’t even thought of for people to heal from–including seeing some of the darker angrier sides of our others.
This upcoming Sunday in worship we’ll read the words of Mark 1:29-39. Two words struck me near the end of the reading, “there too.” My guess is we’ll find people are hurting “over there, and over there, and there too” as we recover from 2021.
I invite you to click HERE to listen to Karen Marie Garret’s Tally’s Lullaby. Let it embrace and comfort you. Then, pray a sense of God’s embrace and comfort around someone you know (a weary parent, a devoted teacher, an essential-worker whose dealt with way too many angry customers this year, a person who cleans and faces risk each day, a person whose hours have been cut, a person who owns a restaurant, someone who lost a loved one). Take a moment to let God comfort you, then pray God’s comfort “there too” for another.
Christ’s Peace and Comfort,